Dick Fry, high tyee at Bonners Ferry

Dick Fry

“High tyee” Dick Fry (image credit: Geni)

“High tyee“, like “high muckymuck“,  reflects a mixed English-Chinook Wawa pedigree, but is its own critter.  That “high” surely owes its presence in the phrase to two languages and three words: English “high”, as well as the Jargon’s “hiyu” (plenty) and “hyas” (big).

I don’t think this has been pointed out for “high muckymuck” before — let me check the etymologies given in various sources — I think they say only “hyu” as the Jargon original.

Anyway, “high tyee” works in a slightly more literal sense as “high chief” when applied to known Jargon speaker Dick Fry (Richard Amherst Fry, 1838-1898), who married into a local Native family and became a person of some importance. (More about him can be read in the book “A Ramble in British Columbia“.)

Read on:

dick fry hyas tyee.jpg

The Forest Fires of 1885.

The local historian is off color again when he asserts, that in 1887, when the town was founded, it was covered by a dense growth of timber. As a matter of fact, it was completely denuded of all large standing timber. In 1885 the country was burnt over by forest fires, while Alex McLeod, now of Ainsworth, and others were placer mining on Forty-nine creek. When Nelson was founded it was just as easy to get over on foot as it is today. There was much fallen timber, but there was very little underbrush. This being so, there is no reason for believing that Martin Fry was the only man who had penetrated the country for any distance. There is, however, a very grave doubt whether Martin Fry ever trapped through this country. His brother, Dick Fry, who, from the early 60’s was a sort of high “tyee” at Bonner’s Ferry [Idaho], did the trapping through this section. When the placer excitement on Wild Horse, in East Kootenay, was at its height, a trader named Bonner made a fortune with a trading post at what is now known as Bonner’s Ferry. When the first excitement subsided he sold out to Dick Fry, Fry carried on the business of packing supplies to the miners in East Kootenay and trading with the Indians along Kootenay lake. He packed his supplies in from Hope, on the Fraser river, to East Kootenay via Bonner’s Ferry, and packed his furs out by the same route.  Dick Fry spent two winters in Southern Kootenay trapping and placer mining in the early 60’s. Fry creek, which puts into Kootenay lake on the east side above Kaslo, was named after Dick Fry. The placer ground on Forty-nine creek received some attention from the same Fry, as did also the placer ground on the Lardo river. Up to 1887 Martin Fry had not been in this section of country. It was after the discoveries had been made upon Toad mountain that Martin Fry came in here with his sons.

— from the Nelson (BC) Tribune of September 25, 1897, page 1, column 2

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